Self portrait with Isabella Brandt, his first wife, in the honeysuckle bower
Directly after his return from Italy, the 32 year old Rubens married the 18 year old Isabella Brant. This double portrait, which broke new ground in portrait painting, was purportedly done shortly thereafter. Rubens did not however give up using traditional symbolism: Honeysuckle was a well known symbol for faithfulness and hands laid over one another ("dextrarum iunctio") have symbolized matrimony since ancient times. However these references are integrated into this snapshot-like scene in which middle-class contentedness, substantial affluence and strong affection are expressed.